TAG Today - May 2019

May 30, 2019


Find Out What’s Next for TAG’s Certified Against Fraud Program!

We’ve made some tremendous strides in fighting fraud as an industry over recent years (as highlighted below), but we often get asked about the future of TAG’s Certified Against Fraud (CAF) Program. Earlier this year, the co-chairs of TAG’s Anti-Fraud Working Group (AFWG) - Scott Spencer of Google, Nicole Cosby of Publicis Media and John Alleva of NBCUniversal - set out the following strategic objectives for the program:

  • Review and update CAF Program guidelines and tools to address the evolution of ad fraud and enable companies to better fight fraud in the digital ad supply chain;
  • Evaluate value and efficacy of Publisher Sourcing Disclosure requirement and redesign as needed to improve impact in reducing ad fraud; and
  • Evaluate value and efficacy of Data Center IP List and redesign as needed to improve impact in reducing ad fraud.

With these goals in mind, the dedicated members of the AFWG have done incredible work with TAG over the last five months to update and improve the CAF Program guidelines and tool, including:

  • Releasing Certified Against Fraud Guidelines v4.0 in January, which require Independent Validation for all companies that certify European or Global operations and extend Ads.txt requirements to Direct Buyers and Intermediaries, so they are now required to honor ads.txt files and buy only from Authorized Sellers and Resellers;
  • Publishing the Invalid Traffic Taxonomy v2.0 document in January, which provides accurate and consistent terminology to better describe types of invalid traffic in order to foster transparency and collaboration in the fight against ad fraud; and
  • Releasing the v5.0 draft of TAG’s Certified Against Fraud Guidelines for review by the TAG Community ahead of its planned July release, which add a requirement for all participating companies to implement in-app threat filtering across all monetizable transactions, helping address growing fraud volumes in Mobile and OTT environments.

The Certified Against Fraud Program continues to evolve as well, having migrated the TAG Data Center IP List into TAG’s Member Portal in early May. New protocols have been built out by the IAB Tech Lab this year, and the Media Rating Council has begun work to overhaul their Invalid Traffic Guidelines by end of 2019, all of which will help TAG in our fight against fraud in the ever-evolving digital advertising landscape. 

With these changes, TAG is planning its next release of the Certified Against Fraud program documentation by early 2020, which is expected to cover the following areas:

  • Reconsidering General v. Sophistical Invalid Traffic Detection and Filtration as the MRC overhauls its IVT Guidelines this year, especially across platforms and formats;
  • Incorporating sell-side requirements around app-ads.txt;
  • Adding sell-side disclosures to specifically address influencer marketing fraud; and
  • Moving TAG’s Publisher Sourcing Disclosures from CAF to TAG’s Inventory Quality Guidelines/Brand Safety certification, also slated for early January release

Our industry has made great strides in fighting fraud, and the best is yet to come. If you’d like to get more deeply involved in TAG’s anti-fraud efforts, you can get information about joining the AFWG by contacting Bonnie Niederstrasser at

2019 ANA/White Ops Study Highlights TAG Success in War on Fraud

According to the fourth Bot Baseline report from White Ops and the ANA (Association of National Advertisers), the digital advertising industry has had significant recent success in the war on ad fraud, thanks in large part to the efforts of TAG’s members.

The study found that economic losses from bot fraud are expected to drop to $5.8 billion globally this year from $6.5 billion in 2017, a dramatic 11 percent decline over two years, made even more impressive by the 25.4 percent increase in total digital ad spending over the same period. The study also found that for the first time more fraud will be stopped in 2019 than will succeed.

The study highlighted the vital role played by TAG and its member companies in shifting the tide of the battle against fraud.

“Efforts by the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) and their Certified Against Fraud program, coupled with groups working together to dismantle botnets, have drastically reduced both the supply and the demand for traffic from vendors that are caught selling bot traffic,” noted the study. “Today, more sophisticated bot buying operations have been forced underground, to invitation-only forums and chat rooms, which require a more sophisticated buyer.”

TAG’s role in reducing ad fraud was highlighted widely in media coverage, including stories in MediaPost, Campaign US, TechTarget, and MarTech Advisor.


From Stefano Vegnaduzzo, Vice President, Data, Integral Ad Science, in Media Post’s MAD London:

“To effectively defend against fraud, it’s time to answer a crucial question: where do we draw the line — and how can we better tell friend from foe? ...
“Attempts to tackle the issue have made progress, particularly the Trustworthy Accountability Group’s (TAG) Certified Against Fraud initiative. The guidelines strongly recommend that publishers adopt the ads.txt specification and independent validation requirements. This increases transparency and the ability to reduce ad fraud.”

From Simon Halstead, Head of Exchanges and Supply, Ad Platforms EMEA, Verizon Media in ExchangeWire:

“According to the latest IAB study, Spain’s programmatic market share has grown up to 31%, slowly catching up to the rest of Europe, where some markets already surpassed the 50% mark. Advertisers have been key to increasing adoption levels, whereby almost every major advertiser is spending via programmatic. Once our ecosystem around security and transparency improved, new opportunities were automatically unblocked. We at Verizon Media are proud to have actively partnered with the IAB and the TAG (the Trustworthy Accountability Group) to help build an industry-wide foundation for combating fraud.”

From “Ad Fraud: How to Spot It, and Its Consequences” in Mobile Marketing:

“The advertising industry analysts Forrester believe that $10.9bn will be lost from fraudulent advertising by 2021 unless something changes dramatically. This is not a problem the advertising industry, or brands, can afford to sit on. …

What's the Solution?

“The answer is to use dedicated tools to take on and defeat ad fraud. One thing that has helped to stamp out fraud has been accreditation from the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), which is given to companies who adopt strict rules such as having a TAG compliance officer who performs regular monitoring, and completing a checklist in order to fraud-proof content. Where accredited, fraud rates were found to go down to 0.53 per cent from an industry average of 8.99 per cent - a staggering difference.”


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